Progressive commentator: Biden is 'at least honest' on approach to 'Medicare for All'

Progressive commentator Emma Vigeland defended former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenNew Biden campaign ad jabs at Trump's reported 0 income tax payments Biden campaign sells 'I paid more income taxes than Trump' stickers Trump, Biden have one debate goal: Don't lose MORE following his recent clash with South Bend, Ind. mayor Pete ButtigiegPete ButtigiegBillionaire who donated to Trump in 2016 donates to Biden The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by Facebook - GOP closes ranks to fill SCOTUS vacancy by November Buttigieg stands in as Pence for Harris's debate practice MORE over “Medicare for All.” 

Biden last week accused fellow Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg of stealing his health care proposal. The former South Bend, Ind. mayor later pushed back against Biden’s criticism, saying he had been touting his “Medicare for all who want it” plan before Biden launched his presidential campaign last April.

Vigeland, who is a correspondent for The Young Turks, told Hill.TV on Tuesday that even though Biden is far from perfect, she argued that the former vice president has been upfront about certain issues like Medicare for All throughout his campaign. 

“He's at least honest in the fact that he's not going to try," she said. "He said nothing will fundamentally change."

"He’s been saying go vote for someone else in a variety of instances, specifically when leftist activists are coming to him and saying, ‘will you commit to these policy ideas,' these things the left is transiting to,” she later added.

Biden and Buttigieg have come toe-to-toe on issues like health care in recent weeks as both battle for the support of centrist voters, particularly in key early voting states like Iowa. 

A RealClearPolitics average of Iowa polls shows Buttigieg at 22.5 percent support, giving him a 3.2 point lead over Sanders and a 4.5 point lead over Biden. Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenNew Biden campaign ad jabs at Trump's reported 0 income tax payments Democrats blast Trump after report reveals he avoided income taxes for 10 years: 'Disgusting' Overnight Defense: Appeals court revives House lawsuit against military funding for border wall | Dems push for limits on transferring military gear to police | Lawmakers ask for IG probe into Pentagon's use of COVID-19 funds MORE (D-Mass.), places fourth at 16.3 percent.

Biden has been pushing for expanding health insurance coverage under the Affordable Care Act, while also adding a “public option” that would allow Americans to select a government plan or use private insurance.

Buttigieg, meanwhile, introduced his own plan in September that would similarly expand Medicare coverage and allow those to keep their private health insurance plans.

Both plans mark a striking contrast to those introduced by progressives Sanders and Warren.

Sanders and Warren have been vocal supporters of a Medicare for All plan that would do away with private health insurance in favor of a single-payer, government-run plan.

Warren has shifted her Medicare for All policy slightly, saying she would work to expand insurance immediately if she is elected president, while shifting the country to a Medicare for All system over the course of three years.

—Tess Bonn